The space station's two-armed robot Dextre won't tackle the $22.6 million playset - a fancy Fisher-Price toy as one astronaut describes it - until long after Atlantis departs and the shuttle program ends.
But perhaps more than anything else on this final journey by a shuttle, the robotic demo illustrates the possibilities ahead for NASA: satellite-refueling stations in space run by robots.
In a departure from previous shuttle visits, the spacewalking job fell to space station astronauts, Michael Fossum and Ronald Garan Jr., who teamed up for three spacewalks in 2008. The four-person Atlantis crew is the smallest in decades, and so the lone spacewalk of the mission was handed over to the full-time station residents.
It was the 160th spacewalk in the 12½ -year life of the orbiting outpost, and the last one planned for Americans for more than a year.
Image: In this photo made from video, astronaut Ronald Garan Jr dangles outside the International Space Station during the last spacewalk of NASA's space shuttle era, with fellow astronaut Michael Fossum (not shown), Tuesday, July 12, 2011. (Photographs copyright AP)